|Pierce: We’re still capable of winning a championship||04.16.09 at 4:37 pm ET|
But to quote the man himself, “Anything is Possible!!!”
Paul Pierce has been prepping himself for this possibility all along, or at least since Garnett went down for a second time in mid-March with the right knee injury.
“Last 10 to 12 games, if Kevin comes back or if he doesn’t, we have to be mentally prepared for it,” Pierce said. “That’s the way I approached these games coming down to (the end) of the season.”
As a matter of fact, the Celtics finished 16-7 this season in the 23 games without their emotional leader. They even won 10 of 11 without him after losing to Orlando to capture the No. 2 seed in the East.
“You feel bad for a guy who wants to be out there, wants to help his teammates in the playoffs. I know it’s hurting him more than it’s hurting us,” Pierce said.
Pierce believes the team, with shooters like himself, Ray Allen and Eddie House and inside players like Kendrick Perkins, Leon Powe and Glen ‘Big Baby’ Davis are more than capable of picking up enough slack.
“Now the guys know he’s probably not going to play, we have to move forward with what we got,” Pierce said. “Guys have to be ready to step up. That’s about it. We’ve been playing without him for quite a while so we know we’re still a pretty good team and capable of winning a championship.”
As for those who doubt the Celtics have any chance at all of even reaching the NBA Finals to defend their title, Pierce hardly sounded like a man whose feelings have been hurt.
“There’s always going to be doubters,” Pierce said. “That’s something we don’t really worry about. We know what we have in this room and we know what we do when we play well and that’s all that really matters right now. It’s going to be an uphill battle of course not having Kevin but that’s how we like it.”
|Remain calm, all is well||04.16.09 at 3:20 pm ET|
But let’s take a deep breath and try to figure out what not having Kevin Garnett means for the Celtics. With him (as ESPN’s John Hollinger points out), the Celtics were 44-11 and a +9.5 in scoring differential, making them one of the best teams in the league. Without him, they are 21-9 and +4.0, making them one of the better teams in the league, but not one of the elite.
Without Garnett, the Celtics have been getting by with a combination of Big Baby Davis and Mikki Moore. While Baby and Moore are decent jump-shooting big men, what was missing was a low-post presence on offense.
Enter Leon Powe, whose per-minute averages in scoring and rebounding are about equal to Garnett’s contributions. Powe’s concern, like that of Moore and Kendrick Perkins, is staying out of foul trouble and on the floor to make those numbers translate into per game averages.
What’s really missing, though, is the captain of the defense and there’s simply no way for the current Celtics to make up for Garnett on that end of the floor.
Before Doc Rivers declared KG essentially out for the playoffs, conventional wisdom had the Celtics reaching the Eastern Conference Finals. Without KG, but with homecourt in the first two rounds, the Celtics are still in decent position to reach that plateau, and a whole lot of things can happen between now and then.
There’s no question the Celtics chances of repeating took a significant hit, but over? Nothing is over until… well, you know.
|Bench support||04.16.09 at 2:46 pm ET|
WALTHAM – After dealing with the stunning news delivered by their head coach that Kevin Garnett has probably played his final game this season, Celtics players are making one final demand of their best defensive player and emotional leader.
“That’s where I need him to be I need him to be on the bench because if he can’t be on the floor, he can be valuable to us on the bench,” Ray Allen said. “In a lot of instances it’s like he is on the floor. I will push as hard as I possibly can because his voice over there on the bench will be just like he is in the game.”
And just before Thursday’s practice, head coach Doc Rivers assured Allen and the rest of the Celtics that Garnett will indeed be there starting Saturday afternoon at 12:30 when they open a first-round series with Chicago.
“Yeah, he will be, he will be,” Rivers said. “That’s the one thing I told him. During the playoffs, we need everybody in there, out on the floor, in the locker room and on the bench. We just hope he doesn’t get a technical.”
Garnett has often said that he’s afraid how he’ll handle himself when he can only watch. But they are all asking KG to make an exception this time because of the lift it could give during the passion-driven playoffs.
The team’s captain also feels strongly about Garnett’s value to the bench.
“It’s very important because of the way guys look at Kevin,” said Paul Pierce. “He’s an unquestioned leader of this ball club and he can help us just by being on the bench, seeing some of the things he sees out there and giving his knowledge of the game, especially to the other big guys. So I think it’ll be huge.”
Whether it’s Allen or Pierce or even coach Doc Rivers, everyone around Garnett is well aware of his dislike for being on the bench during games.
And don’t think for a second that Allen doesn’t feel for his fallen teammate who will be reduced to cheerleader.
“I’m devastated for him,” Allen said. “This is the time of year we all wait for. The excitement is in the air. This is where players are made, teams are made and legacies are cemented and for him not to be a part of this, I hurt for him.”
|Scal could return by Game 3||04.16.09 at 2:28 pm ET|
WALTHAM – While the news on Kevin Garnett was gloomy on Thursday afternoon, there was one ray of hope as Celtics coach Doc Rivers said there’s a 50-50 chance Brian Scalabrine could return by Game 3 of the series with Chicago.
“Scal is a positive sign,” Rivers said. “He gets to do 2-on-2 (drills) and things like that today. He’s definitely out for the first two games. There’s a 50 percent chance that he can play by Game 3 but that’s if everything goes perfect.”
Scalabrine suffered a pair of concussions days apart in late February and hasn’t played since while recovering from post-concussion syndrome. He missed the final 24 games of the regular season.
|Rivers at practice: There’s just no way||04.16.09 at 1:50 pm ET|
WALTHAM – Furthering his comments made first to WEEI’s Dennis and Callahan this morning, Celtics coach Doc Rivers said before his team’s practice today that Kevin Garnett is all but out for the playoffs.
“It’s not official if he’s out for the entire playoffs but it’s official as far as I’m concerned,” Rivers said. “He looked better last week than he did today. I was convinced there wasn’t going to be a minute limitation but there’s no way, just no way.”
|KG needs bone spur surgery||04.16.09 at 1:46 pm ET|
WALTHAM – Once Kevin Garnett’s season does come to an end, Celtics coach Doc Rivers said the star will need surgery on a bone spur in his right knee that is not related to the knee injury suffered on Feb. 19 in Utah.
“We knew he needed (surgery) before that injury ever happened,” Rivers said. Rivers also said that Garnett has been asked by the team to be on the bench during the playoffs for emotional support. Garnett was at the practice facility but did not speak about his injury.
|Doc Rivers on Garnett: ‘There’s No Way’||04.16.09 at 11:14 am ET|
D&C: Hey Doc after a 62 and 20 regular season, are you more weary from the grind, or more weary from answering KG health questions?
Doc Rivers: Well probably the grind, it was an exhausting year in that way, it was fun, I mean it was really interesting being attacked every night, especially on the road, I mean every night but on the road you just saw the energy in the crowd, and teams coming in and trying to beat the champs. So it was an interesting journey.
D&C: You knew that was coming, you knew you were going to get everyone’s best every night. What you didn’t know was coming were the injuries and the man hours lost to injuries. If somebody told you at the beginning of the season, and made a list of all the things you had to deal with from an injury standpoint would you have said 62 wins?
Doc Rivers: No, no especially with them at the same time. I mean having Leon and Kevin out at the same time, and I don’t know if people really understood what we lost, not just the defensive part, but we didn’t have a post game. I mean you lose both of those guys, that’s your low post game and so we played perimeter basketball for the last fifteen games and still won games and that was impressive.
D&C: How will you know, and this is the obligatory KG question, how will you know after two days of practice if he’s ready? I’m guessing he’s not going to tell you the truth.
Doc Rivers: Well I’m just going to say this, I just finished watching him run, this is the first time I’ve said because it’s the first time I’ve really watched him, he’s not going to be ready. After watching him run, there’s no way, so we’re going to move without him and the way I saw him move today guys I don’t know if he’ll be ready.
D&C: Describe it for us.
Doc Rivers: He’s just limping, he just can’t run and you know this was an honest run today, you couldn’t fake your way through it if, you know what I’m saying. You know the guy is a warrior and you can see him trying to mask it, but after twenty minutes of running there’s just no way.
D&C: And you’re talking about round two, round three, round four, you don’t know if he’ll be ready at all? Read the rest of this entry »
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